Written for the Germany/Italy secret santa exchange at lj. This fic features a student - teacher relationship that is completely within the bounds of legality, but if that bothers you give this a miss.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia
It's the first day of school. The halls are flooded with students, from lackadaisical upperclassman already ailed with senioritis to freshmen with bulging backpacks, and amongst them all is Ludwig Beilshmeidt, trying to find his new locker.
Saying that the hallway is crowded is an understatement; if there were any more people there, it would be as tightly packed as a can of sardines. In hindsight, Ludwig will realize that keeping his nose buried in his schedule sheet is a very smart thing to do.
Especially not since he walks right into… someone.
Ludwig falls over, and it takes a moment for him to recover. He stands back up, resisting the impulse to rub his sore rump, and looks down for his fallen schedule sheet.
Super tight skinny jeans. Sprawled on the floor, with papers fallen all around them, are the most perfect pair of legs Ludwig has ever been blessed enough to see in his entire life. Thin and toned, and with jeans that clutch every curve and contour, they are a creation of God.
"H-Huh? Oh, I'm sorry!"
And that's when Ludwig realizes he's staring. He flusters, reaching over and in one quick swoop he collects all the dropped papers, his one and this other boy's twenty or so (why does he even have so many?' Ludwig wonders), and he shoves them back into the boys lap ('don't look at his crotch donotlook').
"Thank you!" The boy smiles, and he stands up again, taking a moment to regain his footing. He's taller than Ludwig expects him to be (those legs', his mind reminds him), but gangly and awkward; probably a senior.
Ludwig, finding that he cannot speak, merely nods. The boy scampers back off into the crowd, but not before flashing him a charming smile.
Some strange new voice that Ludwig never heard in his mind tells him that he needs to find out this boy's name, fast.
The first few classes are entirely uneventful. Ludwig's new teachers introduce themselves, introduce the classes they teach, and give out supply lists (Ludwig, being who he is, already has all the supplies he'll need all year), and then the bell rings and everyone moves on. Already Ludwig has noticed that students have begun to sleep during a few of the more boring first day classes, and he can't help but think of his good for close to nothing older brother.
Ludwig consults his schedule; there is only one more period between him and lunch, and it's probably the class he cares the least about: Psychology of Music. He is required to take a music course to graduate, and Gilbert had assured him that this class was probably the easiest thing ever (and he should know; it was the only course Gilbert had gotten an A in since preschool).
"Besides," Gilbert had told him offhandedly, "that teacher is the fucking cutest thing in the entire school."
Not that Ludwig cares about that.
He sighs and makes his way down to the music room in a timely manner, noting the choir arrangement of the seats, and sitting in a chair in the first row, front and center. There are a few others already in the room, but they have all laid claim to seats in the back and are gabbing away excitedly about their summers. As he takes out his notebook, Ludwig pays them no mind.
Within a few moments the room is full, but there is no teacher in sight; Ludwig feels the energy in the room heighten as the other students begin to wonder about the instructor's whereabouts. In his mind, he thinks that this is a horrible first impression for a teacher to make, and no wonder Gilbert liked her so much.
The door to the choir room opens again, and the first things Ludwig sees are those legs again. The ones dressed in the tight tight tight black skinny jeans. The ones he has been trying not to think about, without much success, for the past four hours.
"Sorry I'm late!" The boy squeaks, and Ludwig shakes his head. It's not as if this boy has anything to worry about, the teacher is even later than he is.
But then he pauses, and upon closer inspection something clicks in his mind this guy is not a kid. Because even though he is tall and thin, he is not as gangly as Ludwig thought he was, and even though he has a baby face there is the barest hint of stubble on his chin, as if he missed a spot shaving this morning.
And then the man sets his bag down atop the piano, and when he turns to face the class with a sheepish smile, Ludwig's mind reaches two conclusions. One, this is their teacher.
And two, he is the most attractive person Ludwig's ever seen.
The excitement of the first week of school fades quickly, and by the middle of week two Ludwig has found the need to make full use of his little black organizer. Read the first two chapters of The Scarlet Letter, memorize the quadratic formula and use it on the following twenty problems in the textbook, take notes on the four phases of matter, know what the Franco-Prussian war was about, and that is barely scratching the surface of his homework for the night.
But fifth period music is calling for his attention now, and so he swings his bag over his shoulder and gets himself to class in a timely manner, even though he'd like nothing more than to drag his feet, get there late, and be the first one out.
Mr. Vargas is more of a problem that Ludwig was expecting. Not that the class is hard by any means; the premise of the class seems to be: listen to music, discuss the emotions it evoked in you, and create an artist response of your own. Most kids scribble with pen on loose-leaf the period before. Mr. Vargas loves it.
No, it isn't the class that's a problem, it is the man himself. He is, Ludwig grudgingly accepts, attractive. The female students swoon over him on the lunch line, revering his chocolately brown eyes and lush auburn hair in hushed, awed tones, as if they're talking about a celebrity. Ludwig rolls his eyes at them, but during class he finds he cannot look away from those features, and from the ones he's never heard the girls talk about. Like Mr. Vargas' fair skin, which always looks impossibly smooth, and his stylish wardrobe, which often fits so well that Ludwig wonders if the clothes are made for his body.
And then there's his body language; it's as if Mr. Vargas can never sit still. He sways to swing music and head bangs to rock; he loses himself in classical music and when salsa is playing, he is dancing. And it's all terribly, awfully, beautifullysexilyarousingly distracting.
When the bell finally rings to signal the end of fifth period, Ludwig is always the first one out of the room.
The third Friday of the school year, Mr. Vargas comes into class with a guitar case strapped haphazardly over his shoulder. The class settles quickly, and with a full, bright, beautifulgorgeousteasing smile he makes an announcement.
"I am not just a music teacher," he starts brightly. "I am also a composer."
He pauses and licks his lips; Ludwig convinces himself that he is not watching the pink tip of his tongue as it darts out.
"I'm not very good!" Mr. Vargas adds with a bright smile. "But I hope you'll enjoy it!"
He starts to strum slowly, humming in tune to the sounds he's creating, and Ludwig watches his eyelashes flutter as his eyes fall shut.
'You're beautiful,' he thinks despite his sensibilities, 'You are the best composer I've ever heard. I never want this moment to end.'
Ludwig catches himself thinking that way, and wonders if he is really as red as he feels he is becoming. He is grateful that Mr. Vargas has his eyes closed, still, and relaxes himself enough that his blush finally recedes.
And then Mr. Vargas starts to sing.
The next morning, a Saturday, Ludwig wakes up at 5:35 am. His body is covered in a cold sweat, his underwear is plastered to him, and his sheets are a dirty, sin-coated mess.
Looking Mr. Vargas in the eye becomes an impossible task; Ludwig relocates to a seat in the back of the room and keeps his bag in his lap for the entirety of every class, because he wants to remain on the safe side. He does the assignments to the bare minimum requirement, and never raises his hand, because he does not want to attract attention.
In his rush out of the room one afternoon, he misses the frown Mr. Vargas gives his escaping back.
This works out for a few months; Ludwig avoids his professor's attentions as if they are a plague, and takes to washing his own sheets at least once a week. He throws himself into the work for other classes, and whenever it comes time to create an "artistic response" he writes a paragraph, if even that long, about his dogs. Every single time, about his three dogs, because it means he won't slip (I dreamt about you last night; you were red, spread beneath my finger tips, you sang my name and I heard your accent and I woke up soaked in semen.) and say something he doesn't mean to say.
One day, Mr. Vargas comes to class wearing pants that look as if they're made of leather, and Ludwig wonders if someone turned the thermostat way up, because he's starting to feel a little choked and his collar is way too tight even though it was fine in his last class and oh, Mr. Vargas just turned around, those pants must be leather because nothing else could hug someone's ass in just that way…
That evening, he is assigned a new piece: Romeo and Juliet, composed by Tchaikovsky. The piece does not make him think of his dogs. He cannot invent a way to relate it to his dogs. The title remains in his head, looms in his mind as he taps his pen against the page, and the only way he can relate the most famous forbidden love in the world to his dogs is to talk about how they're all fixed and can't have puppies.
So, after two hours of staring at a blank page, Ludwig gets up and decides he should get to bed early that night. While he sleeps, he dreams that Mr. Vargas finds out about his… whatever this is, and it is nothing short of a nightmare.
The next day in class, Ludwig does not hand anything in.
This, apparently, is the moment Mr. Vargas was waiting for. Because the day after that, at the end of class, those wonderful chocolatey eyes that Ludwig's dreams have convinced him are always hazy and teary and gorgeous mid-coitus turn to him.
"Ludwig, when do you have lunch?" he asks at the end of class, as the other kids are filing out. Ludwig informs him that his lunchtime is right then.
Mr. Vargas smiles, "That's good, I'm not teaching! Do me a favor and bring your lunch up to my office so we can eat together? There's something I want to talk to you about."
Ludwig nods, unable to come up with an excuse fast enough, and as he goes through the motions of grabbing his lunch from his locker, he wonders how Mr. Vargas found out.
'Don't be silly. It cannot be that.'
Somehow, though, he has convinced himself that it is.
"Ludwig! I'm happy you came to visit me." Mr. Vargas beams when Ludwig comes into his office; his first impression of it is that it is messy and unorganized, and the other seems to pick up on that.
"Oh, I'm sorry it's a mess. I'm not very good at keeping things clean."
Ludwig nods, unable to tell him it's okay. There are papers, most of them homeworks, an open grade book (Mr. Vargas closes that quickly), a lunch tote, a laptop, CDs, sheet music, and in the midst of it all there is a framed photo of a cat.
"Her name is Fettuccine!" Mr. Vargas explains happily, catching where Ludwig's gaze was going. He sits in one chair and gestures to the other, and Ludwig takes a seat.
In Mr. Vargas' lunch tote, there is pasta. He seems almost sheepish about it, giving a tilted smile, "Pasta is my favorite food. What did you bring?"
Ludwig shows him the sandwich, neatly made peanut butter and jelly, with the perfect ratio of each so that both can shine equally. Mr. Vargas seems impressed, although, Ludwig decides, he may just be amused.
"Well, Ludwig," he starts, slurping up some of his spaghetti and licking the sauce from his lips. Ludwig feels the sandwich struggle down his suddenly dry throat. "I didn't just call you here to eat lunch with you, although that it always fun. I love when my students visit me for lunch!"
Ludwig finds it in him to swallow the next bite of his sandwich, and Mr. Vargas continues.
"But that's not why I asked you here. I noticed you've started to act differently-"
Here it comes.
"-and I'm worried about you."
Ludwig is torn between sighing in relief and relishing in the fact that this god of a man is concerned over his wellbeing.
Not that he thinks Mr. Vargas is godly, or anything. That would be a silly thing for a student to think of their teacher.
"You stopped raising your hand, you moved to sit in the back of the room, you always seem very distracted and red, and you didn't give in any homework! I asked your other teachers about it, and none of them said you were acting like this in their classes. They all said it was so weird that you would be acting like this."
When Ludwig dares to look up, he finds Mr. Vargas is looking at him with concern and… was that sadness?
"Is it me? Do you not like me? Because if you don't, I'll work something out for you with Mr. Edelstein, so you can leave my class. I don't think anyone can learn if they're not comfortable…"
It takes Ludwig a split second to decide that he cannot bear the thought of losing those forty-five minutes of staring at Mr. Vargas' ass every day. So, even though it is the completely wrong thing to do, he finds his voice and reassures Mr. Vargas that it's just stress, just a lot of things, just the fact that I'm in lust with you (no wait he can't say that).
Mr. Vargas smiles in relief.
"I'm so glad, I was worried Ludwig didn't like me…"
Ludwig shakes his head; no, sir, that's not it at all (he's not sure but that might have been him thinking with his other head).
"Also," Mr. Vargas adds, polishing off the last of his pasta and looking at the plastic container woefully, "there is something I need your help with.
"They are about to cut funding for the music program, so I want to organize a show of student work in order to raise some money. If we don't, there won't be any new instruments for next year, and we're already running low. But I am horrible at organizing stuff, and your other teachers told me that you were very organized and could handle responsibility and I really need your help. If you do this for me I'll even count it as your missing homework! And extra credit!"
'You did not need to say any of that. You had me at "I need you".'
Ludwig makes a mental note to ask and make sure Gilbert hadn't dropped him on his head when he was a child.
He agrees, and Mr. Vargas claps a hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you, Ludwig, I owe you so much!"
That night, after Ludwig tucks himself under his covers, his shoulder is still hot where the phantom sensation of his teacher's touch lingers. Cursing himself to the deepest depths of Hell, he kicks away the covers and pads across his bedroom floor.
From the back of his closet, past all the stupid Christmas sweaters from his crazy aunt and the soccer gear that is out of season, Ludwig pulls out a box of magazines. Shaky fingers pull his pants down to his knees.
It does not take long for the images of Mr. Vargas clad in nothing more than the leather underwear of the magazine's male models to send Ludwig over that edge. And, when the reality of what has just transpired sets in, and Ludwig feels the ejaculation start to stick to his palm, he realizes that there is no going back.
On Monday Ludwig goes to the Advisor of Student Affairs' office, and it is not hard to get her excited about their art show idea.
"But, I'm afraid I have to tell you the show doesn't have any boards for you guys to display your artwork on. We can provide you with space and help advertise, but it looks like you'll have to get the boards on your own."
On Tuesday, Ludwig relays this information to Mr. Vargas, who beams.
"Your other teachers were right, you really do take charge!"
Ludwig tries not to think about the thing he really wants to take charge of.
"Oh, but the boards…" Mr. Vargas frowns, and Ludwig quickly assures him that they are easy to build.
"That's good. How about you come to my house on Saturday and we can work on them together? That way we can help each other."
And though Ludwig's mind has shut off after Mr. Vargas said 'my house', he somehow manages to nod in agreement.
It is going to be a very, very long week.
The week is long, dragging on practically forever, but when Ludwig wakes up Saturday morning he is instantly alarmed by the realization that promised day has come. He takes his obligatory shower, all the more necessary now that his nocturnal emissions have become alarmingly more frequent, and then takes another one because he wants to be sure he smells nice.
Then he heads back into his room, and it takes him an hour to finally settle on what to wear; during the week his bound by his uniform, which is always impeccable, but now that he has the freedom to dress as he pleases he wants to make a good impression. Embarrassingly, he realizes that the clothes he finally settles on after this hour of changing and stripping and changing again are the first ones he had put on after his shower: a plain white polo and black khaki pants.
In the time it took him to get dressed, Gilbert had polished off the stack of pancakes he made for breakfast, insisting that Ludwig is such a igirl/i for taking so long picking out his clothes.
"What, are you going on a date?" he mocks, and then he fills the dining area with his laughter. Their father gives him a look from over his paper, but Gilbert is too amused to catch it.
"I wonder what sort of girl would be fucking insane enough to date you."
Ludwig can feel his cheeks go pink, and he realizes that Gilbert is an idiot for not realizing he's not interested in girls. Not that he is about to point it out to him; instead, he ignores his brother as he butters and eats a slice of toast. He rushes back upstairs to brush his teeth once again (much to Gilbert's twisted amusement) before he leaves.
Mr. Vargas' house is entirely the opposite of what his office is; while the latter is messy and full to the brim with stuff, the former is neat and pristine. When the beautiful brunet opens the door for Ludwig with a broad grin, he leads him into a room that is furnished in what Ludwig can identify as sleek, modern pieces, a loveseat, a recliner, a small glass coffee table. There's a cat curled on the recliner, and it watches Ludwig intently as he ambles in nervously.
"That's Fettuccine," Mr. Vargas introduces, and before Ludwig can respond the cat darts out of the room, almost as if running from the loud noises that start as soon as someone stomps down the stairs.
For a moment, Ludwig worries; he has always assumed that Mr. Vargas is a bachelor (he does not seem the married type), but never considered that he might have a roommate. The thought makes something in him jump in protest.
It takes him a moment to figure out that this much be what jealousy is.
As it turns out, though, the person coming down the stairs is someone Ludwig does not have to be jealous over. Once he starts to come into sight, Ludwig can already identify the familiar features, and so it is not surprising when Mr. Vargas greets him, "Morning, fratello!"
The man makes a disgruntled noise, and when he finally steps off the bottom step Ludwig gets a good look at him. His eyes are still half-shut and bleary, his hair a ruffled mess, and he's wearing nothing but boxer-briefs. With flushed cheeks, Ludwig can't help but notice how lean and smooth his chest his, the very faint outline of his pectoral muscles, his long legs and clean calf muscles.
Even half asleep, he looks like a model.
Still, as beautiful as he is, there is something wrong about him that leaves Ludwig feeling turned off. His skin is too tan, and he's too skinny, too tall, too much lean muscle and not enough round chub.
The man blinks, and opens his tired eyes slowly; they're an alluring shade of hazel, that voice in Ludwig's voice he's taken to calling his ilibido/i muses, to which the rest of his mind counters, 'they're not as lovely as Mr. Vargas'.'
And then suddenly, the brother's eyes lock with his, and his eyebrows furrow dangerously.
"Who the fuck're you?" he slurs groggily, angrily. Ludwig tenses, how can he be related to Mr. Vargas?
"Brother," Mr. Vargas snaps, "this is one of my students. I told you he was coming today. Don't be mean."
The man snorts, rolling his eyes and shifting his gaze. He mumbles something incoherent, and then looks back at the boy, scoffing, "Why couldn't you bring home a cute girl, Feli?"
Ludwig loses the ability to breath, and practically sprains his neck turning around, trying to gauge Mr. Vargas' (Feli's?) reaction. His fair skinned teacher is blushing, and he wrinkles his nose to snap, "You can't get into relationships with my students, Lovino, they're underage."
Lovino scoffs, padding off into the kitchen shamelessly, and Mr. Vargas gives a forced chuckle.
"Sorry. He's not a morning person."
Ludwig gets the impression that he isn't an afternoon, evening, or night person either, but decides its best not to say anything about it. He asks if that man is really Mr. Vargas' brother, because physical similarities aside they are nothing alike, and the older man laughs.
"Of course he's my big brother. Usually he stays with his boyfriend but they fight a lot so he spends nights here often, too. He is the one who designed this place, mostly; he's a graphic designer!"
Had Ludwig been paying attention, he would have observed that it was quite obvious Mr. Vargas isn't the one who decorated the place, if his office is anything to go by. But he isn't paying attention, because the knowledge that Mr. Vargas' brother is in a relationship with another man sends him reeling.
At the very least, now he knows that Mr. Vargas isn't opposed to gays. That might make this a little less horrible…?
Oh, who is he kidding?
The planks of wood Mr. Vargas has gotten from the hardware store earlier that week are waiting for Ludwig outside in the backyard, alongside yards and yards of black felt. As the blond soon learns, his teacher, as good as he is with his hands, is absolutely helpless when it comes to building anything. So he takes it upon himself to get the boards set up, making quick use of a staple gun and guiding the saw under Mr. Vargas' admittedly useless watch.
Mr. Vargas then decides to take a more secondary role, ensuring that Ludwig take breaks far more frequently than is necessary, enticing him to rest with various juices and treats that Ludwig cannot help but accept when Mr. Vargas gives him that smile.
It is during one of these breaks, after Ludwig has undone the top buttons of his polo from the sweat, that Mr. Vargas sits with him outside in the warm afternoon Sun, a plate of cookies between them. Their fingers brush occasionally, much to Ludwig's twisted delight, and he finds himself timing his eating to match the other man's.
"So, Ludwig, how have you been?" Mr. Vargas asks, snapping into a cookie. A carefree smile is directed right at Ludwig which, when combined with the slightest glimpse of his tongue, makes the blond's heart skip a few beats.
He manages to control it again, though, and answers in the vaguest terms possible that he is doing well. And he is, for the most part; there is simply the matter of his not so healthy and rather intense physical reactions to the sight or thought of Mr. Vargas' anything.
The brunet, not noticing a thing, smiles softly, and when the passing breeze pushes through his russet bangs Ludwig finds his heart is pounding extra loudly.
"That's good," he laughs, sighing gently. "I was worried about you, you know. You're a good kid, but you always seem so tense. But you're here and you're actually taking breaks with me instead of pushing on to get the job done, which is making me really happy."
Ludwig is wholly unsure of how exactly he is supposed to respond, and so he takes another bite of the cookie in his hand to avoid having to say anything. It hardly matters, because after a pause Mr. Vargas continues,
"It's funny… I've been a teacher for four years, right? And I've had lots and lots of students, but I think Ludwig is special."
Ludwig chokes, and Mr. Vargas starts to panic, flailing his arms until his coughs recede.
"Are you okay?" he is almost crying now, and Ludwig frantically reassures him that he's fine, but his throat is still itchy. What sort of thing is that to say to a student?
When he asks Mr. Vargas as much, though, the elder shrugs, "I think all of my students are special. But Ludwig was extra special. He is extra shy but he never lets it stop him from always doing his super best, and that is very admirable."
Before that moment, Ludwig had hardly considered himself 'shy,' but he can see why Mr. Vargas would think that he is. Meanwhile, the usual war that rages on inside him becomes suddenly more heated, as though a third combatant has entered the fray, and Ludwig can not understand why.
He stands up suddenly, deciding that it's about time for them to finish. From then on in he works straight through, taking no more breaks, and declining the invitation to stay for dinner with Mr. Vargas and his cat. His teacher pouts, promising pasta in such a hopeful tone that Ludwig realizes he fully expects that to sway his decision. It breaks the blond's heart to have to turn him down.
Hm, that's funny…
It's not until late that night, after Ludwig tucks himself into bed and is replaying the memories of the day in his mind that he comes to a shocking, gut wrenching realization:
He has fallen in love with Mr. Vargas.
The next week at school passes at nearly quadruple the speed of the last one, and with good reason; every day Ludwig is busy preparing something or other for the art show, booked for that weekend. He has to make sure that announcements are made and flyers passed out, and while Ms. Héderváry and her counsel of student affairs kids were helpful, Ludwig still felt mostly responsible for making sure things went smoothly, if only to please Mr. Vargas, nothing more.
Ever since the night of his revelation, Ludwig has stopped having to wash bed sheets every night to avoid the suspicion of his father and brother. The wet dreams are gone, at least as far as he knows from the past few nights, and in their place has come dreams that, to him, are probably far more intimate. Dreams of them dating, sharing food, Mr. Vargas borrowing a sweater from him that hangs too large on the other's small frame. Dreams of them kissing, languid and long and carefree, not the passionate, sexual ones of dreams past. And somehow, when he wakes up from these dreams, alongside the intensified embarrassment there is joy; pleasure, even. He likes these dreams better than his old ones, at any rate, and having any dreams about his dangerously attractive instructor is better than the nothing he is going to get from his real life.
Because Ludwig has done the math, and if Mr. Vargas has been teaching for four years and being educated for five years and if he had graduated high school at age eighteen, then he is probably somewhere between his mid and late twenties, a full ten years older than Ludwig's meager sixteen. Not only are they laws against it, but hearing Mr. Vargas talk to his brother was enough to let him know that he might as well squash any school girl fantasies of an illicit affair with his god of a music teacher.
Still, Ludwig cannot ignore the temptation to do something, to get the sentiment out there somehow. Having this secret is starting to affect him, however subtly, and he is starting to think that maybe just blurting it out would be more of a relief than it would an embarrassment. But there's a social stigma that prevents him from doing even that, not to mention the chance that the wrong person could hear and Mr. Vargas could be fired.
Worst of all, Mr. Vargas could come to hate him because of it.
It is three days before the art show is to go up that the idea comes to Ludwig during his shower. The art show, wherein students are supposed to express their innermost feelings. If he does a painting, and if he does it right, maybe no one will understand but Mr. Vargas. And, if even he doesn't understand…
Well, at least Ludwig would have tried.
Thursday night, Ludwig finishes his homework as quickly as he can, disregarding neatness in favor of speed (he'll go over them again on Sunday, doubtlessly, so it doesn't matter much). He then goes online, and after a Google search he finds exactly what he is looking for: Stella Stellina, a lullaby the internet assures him is very well known in Italy. He puts it on, closing his eyes and letting the music fill him mind the way Mr. Vargas is constantly coaxing them to in class.
Then he picks up his paintbrush, takes a deep breath, and starts to draw.
When Saturday morning comes, Ludwig accidentally washes his hair twice during his shower, not realizing it had already been shampooed and rinsed until his soapy hands are buried deep in his blond locks once again.
The art show has pretty much the amount of visitors that Ludwig was expecting. He gets there early, and with the help of a few students and Mr. Vargas (and Mr. Vargas the older brother), everything gets set up in a timely fashion. Ludwig is sure to put his own piece up out of the way, suddenly regretting his decision to make it and simultaneously realizing that there is no way Mr. Vargas will understand it, even if he sees it.
The show begins. Parents and faculty start to arrive, looking around and admiring the students' work, dropping money into the donation box that is being monitored by Vash Zwingli. Ludwig stands off to the side, and he cannot keep the smile off his face as much as he tries, because he feels accomplished.
Then Mr. Vargas takes the stage, and the noise of the crowd simmers down to silence.
"Hello!" he starts brightly, and Ludwig can tell some of the parents in the crowd are taken aback by how forceful he is. But to Ludwig it's endearing and it's adorable and it's so incredibly Mr. Vargas.
He has to fight back the urge to punch himself in the face.
Mr. Vargas continues, completely unfazed, "This art show was created by students of our school to save our music program. The budget cuts that are proposed for next year would mean that students won't have any new instruments. So these kids put all their creative talent together and made lots of nice art! Please have a good time looking around, and any donations will be very appreciated!"
The crowd applauds, and Mr. Vargas steps away. It takes Ludwig a moment a realize that he is coming up to him, long enough for him to recover from the shock by the time the man is next to him.
"Thank you for all your help, Ludwig! I was going to include your name in my speech, but then I realized you might not like that since you're so shy!"
Ludwig murmurs a 'thanks', even though he knows he is not shy; it's more a thanks for Mr. Vargas having thought of him at all.
"This show really couldn't have happened without you."
Ludwig's heart thumps uncomfortably, and looks away to hide his pink cheeks. Mr. Vargas does not say anything about that, but instead trills, "I want to see what Ludwig made."
Slowly, nervously, Ludwig leads his teacher to his painting. He is uncreative (or maybe, as voice in him says, you wanted to be obvious), and so he titled his piece Stella Stellina after the lullaby he was inspired by. Mr. Vargas does not miss this.
"I loved this song when I was little!" he said excitedly, and very characteristically he starts to sing it. His voice is very different from that of the woman in the youtube video Ludwig had found, and he is not surprised to find he prefers Mr. Vargas' lightly accented timbre.
When he's done singing, he looks at the painting intently. "I really like this. I can tell you put a lot of Ludwig into it."
Mr. Vargas looks up at him once again, and this time his smile is soft again like it was when they were sharing cookies in his backyard. Ludwig's breath catches in his throat and he realizes that if by some magic Mr. Vargas could always be smiling at him that way, he would never feel anything but happy again.
"Do you want to see what I painted?" Mr. Vargas says calmly, and compared to his usual tone it sounds like a whisper. Ludwig nods dumbly, and the brunet grabs him by the arm.
Mr. Vargas has set his painting up even more out of the way than Ludwig has, and once he unveils it Ludwig feels his heart skip a few beats. It's based on a painting, he can tell right away, and not a song. Italia Und Germania is a painting that Ludwig knows of because there is a replica of it in his father's room (he doesn't know why, and he's not up for questioning it, either).
But there is one very significant change; where the original has two lovely women as the spirits of the nations, this one has two males. The resemblance to the original women is uncanny, but even more obvious is the resemblance to… them.
When Ludwig finally tears his eyes away from the canvas, he finds that Mr. Vargas is looking at the grass.
"When I first started teaching," he murmurs, "the hardest thing for me was to stop being so affectionate with people. My professors kept telling me that I have to tone it down, to not be as bold as I usually am… it could be taken the wrong way.
"I tried my hardest to be good. I clasped my hands together behind my back to stop from touching others. I had to learn to be less loud and intimidating…"
Mr. Vargas laughed dryly, and looked right at Ludwig with a remorseful smile. "I don't think I was doing a bad job… until you came into my class…"
"You're probably disgusted by me now," the brunet murmured. "I apologize, but I really can't help it, I had to tell you. If… if you want to transfer out of my class, it might be for the best, I will talk to Mr. Edelstein for you…"
"That's not it at all," Ludwig murmurs indignantly. "I… feel the same," he forces out, face turning a dangerous shade of red.
Mr. Vargas looks shocked, and his expression flits between joy and despair.
"I… had dreams, that you'd say that. But this… it feels like a nightmare."
Ludwig's expression slacks into something distressed. "I'm sorry, sir."
Mr. Vargas walks up to him hesitantly, places his hands on Ludwig's shoulders, and tries to smile. "Please, don't call me 'sir'. And don't be sorry. You're… you're a kid. You don't have to accept responsibility."
The tone suggests that he will accept all the responsibility for this, if it gets out, and so Ludwig says the only thing he can say, "No one will find out."
"I hope not," Mr. Vargas says. "How old are you, Ludwig?"
They are both thinking the same thing, Ludwig can tell; in two years, none of this will matter. Ludwig will have graduated, and he'll be past the legal age of consent, no longer a minor.
"I should get back to the parents," Mr. Vargas says with a sad smile. "I'm sorry, Ludwig."
And just like that he turns to leave. Ludwig feels his heart shatter a little more with every footstep the other man takes, and even though he knows this is for the best he can't stop himself from calling out helplessly, "Wait!"
Mr. Vargas stops, and turns around slowly. Ludwig forgets for a moment what it is he wanted to say, and so he says, "Come to my house tonight," because it's the first thing that comes to mind.
Mr. Vargas shakes his head, and after a peek around (no one is there, not a soul in sight) he pecks Ludwig so lightly on the corner of his lips the blond wonders if maybe he just imagined it.
"Two years," the man whispers in Ludwig's ear. "I hope that can hold you until then."
It's Christmas time, just after Ludwig's first semester of college. He is too old for the holidays to excite him anymore, but when he boards the train headed for his home town there is still a bubble of anticipation in the pit of his stomach.
He has changed in the past two years; academically he has graduated high school as salutatorian (he could have taken the top spot, if he had not been so distracted junior year) and gone on to study engineering in a college two cities away from his small town. Physically he's gotten taller, and joined his brother at the gym, which gaining a body most boys his age envy.
Socially, however, he is still as awkward as he has ever been, and still hopelessly smitten with the man who taught him how to listen to music.
The train arrives in his quaint little town two and a half hours later and his heart his pounding. Somehow he is able to remember exactly the way to Mr. Vargas' house, and his father is not expecting him home until the next day. He swallows, takes a deep breath, and then he knocks.
"Coming!" he hears the man's voice sing, and his throat tightens. He remembers when Mr. Vargas pulled him aside after graduation, handed him a slip of paper with his phone number and email address. He remembers setting up this rendezvous, and how vivid his dream was the night this meeting was confirmed…
The door opens, and there is Mr. Vargas, standing in a seasonal apron over his teaching clothes (still those tight jeans; Ludwig would have to tell him off for it).
"Merry Christmas, Ludwig!"
"A-Ah, Merry Christmas, Mr. Vargas."
The brunet shakes his head, "Call me Feliciano, now, okay? I'm not your teacher anymore."
Something for which Ludwig is grateful, of course. He is led into the warm kitchen, where there is a batch of cookies cooling, and another in the oven. Pleasantries are exchanged as they should be, and then Mr. Varg- Feliciano whispers around a sugar cookie,
"You… are over eighteen, yes?"
Ludwig blushes, "You sent me a birthday e-card two months ago."
Feliciano grins, "Oh yeah! And… you're consenting, right? You still…?"
He sighs and nods, "Yes, Feliciano, I still want…" you.
And then Feliciano smiles the beautiful smile just as Ludwig remembers from all those years ago, but this time it is pressed fully, properly, to his lips.
Finally, Ludwig feels happy.
A/N: I tried very hard not to make Ludwig get too perverted, but it really flowed out of me to write him as a very lusty, hormonal teenager. I hope that you all enjoyed it!